This is a continuation of Advent devotionals. Read more about the series here! 🙂
9 How can we thank God enough for you, given all the joy we have because of you before our God? 10 Night and day, we pray more than ever to see all of you in person and to complete whatever you still need for your faith. 11 Now may our God and Father himself guide us on our way back to you. 12 May the Lord cause you to increase and enrich your love for each other and for everyone in the same way as we also love you. 13 May the love cause your hearts to be strengthened, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his people. Amen. 1 Thess. 3:9-13 [CEB]
Standing Between the Peaks
In this passage, Paul remembers with thankfulness the church in Thessalonica. He encourages them to continue to care for each other, and to continue on their path of growth and spiritual maturity. And Paul speaks with confidence of God’s care and guidance for their future and exhorts them to wait “blameless in holiness” until the promised return of Christ.
Even in the first years of the Church, God’s people celebrated Emmanuel, God with us. And they waited, expectantly, for Christ’s return, not knowing when or how, but only that it would be. They were on a journey of faith, without understanding where it would lead.
As I read over these verses, I was reminded me of an image from a family vacation in the Rockies…
On this sunny day in Colorado, we spent quite a while looking out across the meadow (which we had just crossed). The twists and turns of the road through the valley were no longer visible from where we stood. Yet we knew the road hadn’t suddenly disapparated! 🙂 We had a 360 degree view of the scenery. We could look back to where we had been, and ahead to the next bends in the road.
One of my seminary professors offered an analogy that helped me better understand the way that prophecy intersects our daily lives. He described prophecy as “standing between the peaks.” One can look back and see what has happened in the past and then look ahead to see what may come in the future. Behind the closest set of mountains are rows and rows of peaks, not fully visible, but viewable. The very top of each mountain is there, clear and knowable. Hidden from view is the exact road we will take to get there.
There are times that the mountain itself is shrouded in mystery. From where we stand, it may be only cloudy and overcast. Then there are times when the brilliance and radiance of God’s promises almost blinds us in joy and hopeful expectation. It’s where we are now — in a specific point in our lives, and especially in the course of human history — that determines what we see and know for ourselves at any given moment. Our humanity limits our understanding.
In spite of where WE are, God does not change. God’s Word does not change. In the midst of the journey, we can trust that God will do what was promised.
It’s this paradox of “the now and not yet” that permeates the Advent season.
Don’t be afraid to WAIT… not knowing, not seeing, not understanding. Embrace your clouded vision and questions. As for when all these prophecies will be fulfilled? Like Paul and the people of Thessalonica, we can say with confidence, “God only knows!” 🙂
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Here’s some more shots from Colorado… each one works with this “prophetic” metaphor. May you have a clearer understanding of the Promises of God — all true… all coming to pass…